1 Corinthians 7:32
I want you to be free from concern. The unmarried man is concerned about the work of the Lord, how he can please the Lord.
Free from CaresD. Fraser 1 Corinthians 7:32
Celibacy and MarriageE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 7:1, 2, 7-9, 25-35
Concerning Virgins and WidowsH. Bremner, B. D.1 Corinthians 7:25-40
Concerning Virgins and WidowsH. Bremner 1 Corinthians 7:25-40
How to Give AdviceJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:25-40
How to Judge in Difficult MattersJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:25-40
Works of Supererogation and Counsels of PerfectionPrincipal Edwards.1 Corinthians 7:25-40
An Argument from the Shortness of the TimeR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 7:29-40
Apostolic Counsels for the TimesC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 7:29-40
Advice Should be GivenJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:32-40
Against CarefulnessC. Simeon, M. A.1 Corinthians 7:32-40
Characteristics of ChristianityJ. W. Burn.1 Corinthians 7:32-40
Free from CaresClerical World1 Corinthians 7:32-40
The Cares of Married LifeJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:32-40
Torment of Little CaresClerical Library1 Corinthians 7:32-40
Will-PowerBishop Thorold.1 Corinthians 7:32-40
Without CarefulnessC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 7:32-40

I. NOTE THE PRECISE MEANING AND DRIFT OF THIS SHORT SENTENCE. It refers to the anxieties of married life. Neither in Old Testament nor New is any disrespect shown to the state of matrimony. St. Paul himself, when writing of the reciprocal duties of life, gives most sympathetic counsels to husbands and wives; and, far from placing marriage in an unfavourable light as compared with celibacy, describes it as a sign of the sacred union of Christ and the Church, But, in this part of his letter, he is replying to a question put to him from Corinth regarding the course most expedient in the special circumstances of the time, i.e. in view of impending persecution and distress. Should unmarried persons marry at such a time? Should parents give their daughters in marriage? Should married Christians, if joined to heathens, remain in the marriage bond? These questions the apostle deals with, giving his opinion, not for all time, but for a time of trouble. It was no sin, or even fault, in any one to marry; but it would be wise to form no new ties at such a crisis, not to burden one's self with new anxieties. In this sense the text is not for us, except in special emergencies and exceptional circumstances. It is hardly needful to say that a man who is about to start on a dangerous expedition, or one who is involved in serious pecuniary difficulty, or one who has some arduous task to accomplish by a given date which will require incessant attention, ought not to marry. Men in such conditions ought not to drag another into their difficulties or dangers, nor should they gratuitously add to their own anxieties. Let them keep their minds undistracted, and defer marriage to some easier and more auspicious day.

II. DEDUCE A PRINCIPLE WHICH WILL APPLY TO ALL OCCASIONS. It is this: the Christian life ought not to be hampered with cares. Well for it to move on simple lines, as much as possible free from distraction and solicitude. Novelists and poets have said much against over anxiety and the black curse of care. Spenser describes care as forging iron wedges day and night.

"Those be unquiet thoughts that careful minds invade." Shakespeare says -

"Care is no cure, but rather corrosive,
For things that are not to be remedied." Another writes of "low-thoughted care." And it is easy to show that it clouds the judgment and defeats itself by restlessness and over anxiety which betray men into ruinous mistakes. But after all that has been said against care, it is not shaken off - no, not by those moralists and poets themselves. Every man we meet has some vexing care about money, or reputation, or health, about the conduct or misconduct of others. We want some deeper teaching and some stronger help. We have both in and from our Master Jesus Christ - the most profound teaching and the most timely and effectual help.

1. The life without care. Our Lord spoke of it in the Sermon on the mount. His disciples should not be anxious about food, or raiment, or the possible mishaps of tomorrow. Such wisdom they might learn from the birds and from the flowers, that are fed and clothed by God. If it be rejoined that the life and wants of birds and flowers are very much more limited than ours, who have to run so many risks and are vulnerable at so many points, the reply is obvious. We ought so to conduct our lives as to keep our grounds of anxiety at the lowest possible limit; in short, to simplify our habits, restrain our self tormenting bustle, and, reducing our external wants, give more voice to those which are inward and spiritual.

2. The modal of that life. It is Christ himself; for the perfect Teacher lived all his doctrines, practised all he preached. The way of human life which the Son of God selected, and to which he adhered, was the best for the purpose of developing a model humanity. We pass over the station in which he was born, because we have no discretionary power over our own birth. But we take note of this, that he grew up in a home of piety, remote from those excitements and temptations that render our modern town bred youth so precocious. He had. a quiet time among the hills and valleys round Nazareth, to let his thoughts grow large and his character acquire deliberate strength. Then, when the time was ripe for opening his prophetic mission, he kept his personal life as simple as possible, and allowed no room for anxieties on his own account. He also surrounded himself with friends who were of simple habits and little worldly ambition. He taught them as they walked from one village to another or rowed their boat upon the lake, and did good everywhere without a particle of ostentation. And so he went on to the end, implicitly trusting and obeying the heavenly Father who had sent him and was always with him. Thus was he always calm and self possessed. No dust of brooding care lay upon his heart. And, indeed, it was because he held himself so free of petty entanglements, that he could be and was so engrossed with the work which the Father gave him to do. Easily satisfied as to food, and raiment, and lodgings, and things that perish, he devoted all the strength of his thought and purpose to the supreme object for which he had come into the world. It may be urged that this, though admirable in hint, is really no model for us. We cannot lead anything like that simple, untrammelled, unconventional life of which we read in the Gospels. Now, no one alleges that in form we can live as our Saviour lived, or his servant Paul. But we do maintain that Christians ought to catch the spirit and principle of the life of Christ, and therefore should not let artificial wants multiply or needless anxieties entangle their hearts. Unless pains be taken to prevent it, life becomes in modern times very much of a grind - heart wearing and perplexing. Our hones and brains are weary. Our time slips away from us, and with all our fagging, we find our work drag. We are caught in the tyrannical grasp of the conventional, and go on in a laborious fashion, not happy, certainly not Christ like. They are the wisest and the happiest who lay down simple lines for themselves, reducing the cumbrousness of the outward life in order to cultivate more fully the inward life of faith, hope, and charity.

3. The principle of the care renouncing life. It is faith in God. Lot us cast our care on him, for he cares for us. On this principle the Man Christ Jesus walked, believing that the Father heard him always and compassed his path. On this principle he assured his followers that the very hairs of their heads were numbered. On this principle have all patient and humble Christian lives been sustained. "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want." The thirty-seventh psalm teaches it well. Art thou anxious about temporal wants? "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shall thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed" (Psalm 37:3). Art thou keen and eager for a lawful object? "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart' (Psalm 37:4). Art thou concerned about the issue of a matter? "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5). Art thou hindered or discouraged by the success of unscrupulous rivals? "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him, fret not thyself" etc. (Psalm 37:7). With these simple directions laid to heart and obeyed, one may go through the greatest vicissitudes and most exhausting toils with a spirit cheerful and serene,

"There are, in this loud stunning tide
Of human care and crime,
With whom the melodies abide
Of th' everlasting chime,

Who carry music in their heart
Through dusky lane and wrangling mart,
Plying their daily task with busier feet,
Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat."

But I would have you without carefulness.

1. The question of marriage. Paul bids Christians, in the first place, not to marry.(1) But that was a time of persecution. The Christian man who had no family could flee in a moment if it was right to flee, and if caught he had not to think about his wife and fatherless children. Paul wished the Church to be like an army which is not encumbered with baggage; his own consisted of half a dozen needles and a reel of thread. He was thus without carefulness.(2) But to-day the circumstances are decidedly different, and we are to follow the principle rather than the particular instance. I have known brethren who had a great deal more care before than after marriage, and who served God better in the married estate. That is the rule to judge by. But numbers of you never judge at all in this way. Many men and women rush into marriage when they know that it must involve them in all sorts of care and hinder them in the Master's service.

2. Increased worldly business. Now, if you can serve God better by having a dozen shops, have a dozen; but I have known persons whom God blessed in one shop, and they lost the blessing when they opened two or three. When invited to take their part in the Lord's work, they replied — "You see, I cannot get out," or "I am so tied." But as the disability is entirely of your own creation, how can it excuse you? Do not fill your pocket at the expense of your soul. God can prosper you and make you happy with a more manageable business, and he can make you miserable if you wilfully increase your cares. Remember how Napoleon tried to do too much, and did it, and did for himself.

3. Public engagements. Everything which concerns man concerns a Christian, and God never wished His servants to leave the government of this realm to all the place-hunters who look for a seat in Parliament. To abandon law-making to the worst of men would be infamous. So with everything which concerns the public weal. But let the rule be — first God, and then our fellow-men. Ye are the servants of God; do not make yourselves the Slaves of men.

4. Occupations prevent attendance at the house of God. When a young man with a moderate salary, and the whole Sabbath and some week-evenings to himself, is offered twice as much in a place Where he must be shut out from worship and service, I hope he will look long before he makes the bargain. For Christians, the best place is where they can do most for Jesus.


1. When a man makes the gaining of riches the first thing in life he cannot be without carefulness. Where his treasure is, there will his heart be also.

2. If you live with the view of gaining honour among men, you will be full of cares. To please everybody is as impossible as to make ice and bake bread at the same moment in one oven.

3. Those who are ambitions to be very respectable will never be without carefulness; they have a pound coming in, but they spend a guinea. Some have a favourite object in life — not God; and these cannot be without carefulness. Dear mother, love your children by all means, but if that little one has become an idol, you cannot be without carefulness. Lots of children have suffered a martyrdom from too much nursing, and excessive carefulness has created cause for care. If anything else becomes the hobby of life, a horse, a dog, a flower, a painting, it will entangle you in nets of care.

III. BY EXERCISING A CHILDLIKE FAITH IN GOD. He sends you troubles and trials, but be without carefulness —

1. By never trying to anticipate them. Never meet them half-way. Commit your way unto the Lord, and then be without carefulness.

2. By being quite content with the Lord's will. Do your best and leave business, health, friends, &c., in the hands of God.

3. By being quite sure about the love of God. He cannot make a mistake, and He cannot fail His people. If the worst thing, as it seems to us, should happen, it must be the right thing, because God has sent it.

4. By believing in the power of prayer, and in the fact that God does actually answer it.

5. By giving all our thought and care to this one object — How can I live as Christ would have lived? You never find Jesus worrying.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE EVIL AND DANGER OF "CAREFULNESS." Every kind of care is not evil; but only that care which is attended with anxiety. And this is evil —

1. As distracting our mind.

2. As impeding our progress.

3. As tending, to turn us from the path of strict integrity.


1. A deep sense of the obligations which God has laid upon us.

2. A lively sense of the obligations which He has laid upon Himself also respecting us.

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

Clerical World.

1. The approach of the end.(1) "The time is shortened," between now and the Lord's coming; or —(2) Between now and our last hour.

2. The transiency of all earthly things. "The fashion of this world passeth away." Do not many of the circumstances of past life, that were then subjects of absorbing anxiety, look now like so many shifting scenes of a stage play?


1. By contentment with our present lot. This is the lesson of vers. 10, 11, 27, 18, 21, &c. "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called" (ver. 20).

2. By using all temporal relations without worldly absorption in them.

(1)All relative duties — husband and-wife an example.

(2)All sorrowful and joyous events.

(3)All acquisitions.

3. By using all temporal relations with a view of pleasing God (vers. 32, 34, 35).

(Clerical World.)

Clerical Library.
One of the most cruel torments of the Inquisition was to place a poor victim beneath a tap, and let the cold water fall upon the head drop by drop. This was not felt at first, but at last the monotony of the water dropping always on one spot became almost unendurable; the agony was too great to be expressed. It is just so with little cares. When they keep constantly falling drop by drop upon one individual they tend to produce irritation, calculated to make life well-nigh insupportable.

(Clerical Library.)

He that is unmarried... but he that is married.
I. ARE UNAVOIDABLE. Marriage involves not merely new anxieties and troubles, but new claims which may interfere with our duty to God.


1. By considering the sinfulness of excessive care.

2. By a supreme aim to please God.

3. By pleasing the partner of our life for good to edification.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

This I speak for your own profit.
I. WITH A PURE MOTIVE — for another's profit.

II. IN A CHRISTIAN SPIRIT — So as not to overrule conscience and bring a snare.

III. FOR A WISE END — to secure what is honourable and subservient to piety.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

The apostle here specifies in dealing with one particular subject some of the grand features which commend the Christian life. The expansion of the text is not unwarrantable, for religion is —

I. TRUE PROFIT. "This I speak for your profit" might preface nearly every Biblical injunction; for godliness in its widest scope and minutest details is "profitable unto all things." This fact appeals to the practical side of our nature, and should have some force in this utilitarian age.

II. PERFECT FREEDOM. The last thing Paul had in view was to cast a noose over the Corinthians, or to lay a restraint on them. The very key note of his teaching, as of the whole gospel, is "liberty." This appeals to the volitional side of our nature, and should arrest the attention of an age one of whose loudest watchwords is "freedom" — of thought, trade, &c. Religion fetters us in nothing, but in that which would restrict our true liberty. Hence it is "a perfect law of liberty."

III. REAL BEAUTY. "That which is comely." Much which goes by the name is unreal because unsubstantial and fading. One of the synonyms of Christianity is "grace" — what is becoming the uncreated beauty of 'God, and what becomes the creature made in His image. By the common consent of all who are entitled to judge, the most beautiful characters are those who are formed on the model of Him who is "the altogether lovely." Religion thus appeals to the aesthetic side of nature, and should gain an hearing in an age which has witnessed a wonderful revival of art.

IV. HAPPY SERVICE. "That ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction." To attend upon anything with- out distraction is a desideratum in this busy age. The lowest and simplest services bring their cares, and men and women are overwhelmed with them. Religion sanctifies these and would have us at home, and in the world, "without carefulness." But in the highest and most difficult service — work for God, and for the eternal interests of man — here anxiety is often the acutest. Paul's contention is that this should not, must not be. And when we consider the nature of the work, its issues, and its helps, we shall say with our Master "I delight to do Thy will, O My God." Conclusion: What more can be added to commend religion? Seemingly two things. The great questions yet remain — Is it reasonable? Is it right? But these are answered already practically. A thing that is profitable, liberating, beautiful, useful and blessed cannot be irrational and wrong.

(J. W. Burn.)

Power over his own will
What is your conception of the best manhood? Clearly, there may be various conceptions of it, each with much to say for itself. One may think to discover it in the domain of mind, where the mellow and perfect culture of a vigorous understanding claims and wins homage. Another detects it in physical beauty and vigour, and in that delightful condition of body which makes it the obedient and ready organ of the spirit. Another, again, finds it in the moral nature of man. The best is the manliest. The purest, gentlest, kindest, truest, tenderest; he is the most worthy, and therefore the most admirable. But surely our text has the real key to the question. It is in the quality, and use, and dominance of the will that the test of manhood is to be discovered. It has been well said that every act is made up of a purpose, a method, and a power. But the purpose comes first. Also, what is true of an act is doubly true of a life. If the will is the mechanical force of the soul, before all things let it be strong. Only a strong will can make a strong man. If the will initiates action in purposing it, it must persevere in it for the accomplishing of the purpose; and, perhaps, even more needful than the volition that starts an act is the firmness that stays. What we all want in life is staying power. The beginning of the race is brisk, facile, and pleasant; but it needs more than high spirits and a vivid fancy to go on to the far end. See, oh, clearly see, that it is not from force of will, so much as from weakness of it, that the world breeds its miseries and its failures. Of course a strong will misdirected is bad. The apostle, you observe, is careful to add "his own will." Perhaps in nothing is a real man's individuality so marked as in his own will. Each man, as says Shelley, must "be himself alone," and he is most specifically himself by his will. If it deserves the name, your will differs from mine, and every other man's, in its surroundings, its flexibility, and original force; and we have to do the best with it that we can. For if you say, as well you may, is not will an inheritance by birth, God's original gift, as much as brain, or animal strength, or those surroundings which make such a difference in our start — I say, in a degree, yes: but not so as to justify us in a base despair because our pound is but one, when our neighbour has five. Like memory, like reason, like the brain itself, which they say grows all through a man's life with the steady work that does it honour, it is made stronger by regular, definite, and repeated use. Then there is the control of the will, which St. Paul describes as power over it, or as the Revised Version gives it, power touching it. To rule the will, we must first consecrate it, in surrendering it with the entire being which it both commands and energises at the footstool of the most high God. You remember of Him, who lived as no other man lived, and died as no other man died, what He said about His will — His human will — a will like yours and mine, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God." To give our will back, up to Him who has bestowed it upon us, with its terrible honourable freedom, is at once our dignity and our blessedness. Our dignity, because thereby we recognise the Divine Fatherhood, and plead our own sonship, as the children of God. Our blessedness, for sometimes the noblest use of liberty is to surrender it: and what St. James calls the perfect law of liberty, is only learnt in the school of love. "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price. Wherefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." To rule it, again, implies that we use it. By using it I mean giving it a first place in the continuous activities of life; not only about plans, but about details; not only for what gets credit, but for what no one sees but God; not only for the problems of the thinker, but for the homely plodding tasks of the honest student, who wanting but his degree, sees Alps that he must climb before he can reach it, yes means to reach it. Not for any one department, or corner, or phase, or period of life, but for the whole. A strong man resolves, sometimes it must be admitted with precipitateness, and an incomplete knowledge of resources. Then he suffers, and perhaps others as well. But is it not far better in the end to suffer for over-much doing — a rare fault, and one which has a knack of taking its own cure with it — than to suffer for too little doing, which usually results, if not in a paralysis of our finer powers, certainly in a deterioration of them? and it is deterioration, so subtle, so easy, so rapid, so hidden, that we all of us, but especially those who are in the autumn of our years, have so much to dread. Power over the will also means the regulating it, in its impulses, prejudices and resolves. By impulse I mean its first ideas and stirrings, which if not watched and restrained will sometimes land us in inextricable disaster. Prejudice it must examine and allow for; neither ignore, nor too much dread. Every intelligent human being is constantly and inevitably storing up in his mind those final and essential and condensed results of his past, which tend, and ought to tend, to bias him in this direction rather than that; and which swaying conduct with an invisible but potent influence, a wise man will recognise and make allowance for, just as the navigator of an iron vessel is careful to have his compasses verified before he goes to sea; then goes, and feels safe. Intention, too, needs regulating, sometimes in the way not only of modifying it, but even of surrendering it, should altered circumstances make it expedient. Self-will has nothing strong about it, though it affects, and even caricatures, firmness. But what is the area of this will over which we are to claim and exercise power? First, it moves about faith; for if St. Paul be correct, both the will in God and the will in man have a concurrent share in what touches our salvation — salvation being a condition of the entire being, and not only one part of it; as much of the intellect which ponders and accepts truth, as of the conscience that feels after righteousness. Let us instantly admit that the will must not be suffered an undue preponderance in the dealings of the mind, with what we call revelation. Our first question is not what do I wish truth to be, but what truth is actually found to be; not what I hope can be proved, but what by the evidence suitable to the question is capable of proof. Keep your will set on truth; still seek it, desire it, wait for it, pray for it, more than for your necessary food. Do not despise it as if it was not worth waiting for; do not despair about it, as if it would never come. Then for culture is not the will required to keep men from dreaming, instead of thinking; to stir this one to study, that one to ambition? Surely will has its place here, with its function of selection, and its duty of application, with its aim in concentration, and with its reward in power. Once more, see what the will has to do with character. An apostle of culture, who describes Salvation as "a harmonious perfection only to be won by unreservedly cultivating many sides in us," admits that "conduct, not culture, is three parts of human life." If there is one rule more than another that I wish to leave in your minds it is the will for goodness. The one sentence that I impress on you about it is "to keep yourselves unspotted from the world." Remember how all grossness and self-indulgence go to weaken the physical powers, and degrade your personal dignity, and wait for their implacable revenge, when the autumn of life arrives, and, almost worst of all, spoil that fine instinctive sense of goodness which is the reward of a soul that has never stained its whiteness, which goes, never quite to come back even after years of devotedness and sanctity: and so with all the power of your will, and with all the passion of your heart, and with all the conviction of your reason, and with all the weight of your conscience, say, when the tempter comes — I may not, I must not, I will not, I cannot, for am not I the child of God, the brother of Jesus Christ? Lastly, the will of the Father, the will of the Son, the will of the Holy Ghost are all for you. The will of the Father about you and your life in front will open out in the way of His providence as the years go on. Trust it. The will of His Son, Jesus Christ; is for you. From His place of glory He looks down and thinks of you all, some with fear, some with delight — all with unspeakable love. His will is to bless you. Is it your will to be blessed? And the will of the Holy Ghost is to give you strength, to sanctify you in body, soul, and spirit, and dignify and irradiate your studies with His divine presence, to stir your thirst for knowledge — all knowledge — but supremely that which manifests the face of God. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." And then this power over your own will shall mean in a perfect and joyous freedom the service of men and the fruition of God.

(Bishop Thorold.)

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